2017 A. A. Badenhorst Family Wines, Grenache, Raaigras, Swartland, South Africa.
The 2017 Badenhorst Grenache is delicious stuff, at first is earthy and raw, but it opens beautifully and gains a lovely floral perfume and supple red fruits along with dusty spices and ends up with an expressive deep fruited personality. Badenhorst and the vines are located on the northern side of the Paardeberg mountain, which is a granite outcrop with three distinctive types of decomposed granitic soils, Paardeberg, Lammershoek and Lemoenfontain all of which are very old and give these wines there unique terroir profiles. The Raaigras Vineyard was planted in 1952 and has a cooler south facing slope that allows for a bit of restraint in natural alcohol, which shows here, it finished with just about 13% and this ruby/garnet hued 2017 Grenache feels lively and fresh in glass with layers of brambly raspberry, juicy plum, strawberry and kirsch fruits as well as cinnamon, minty herb, anise and some peppery spices with silky tannins and very low oak influence. This Grenache will be best enjoyed with a hearty meal and or hard cheeses to allow the fruit core to really shine through in this medium bodied wine. Badenhorst, one of the leaders of modern South Africa’s natural styled wines has put together an amazing collection of wines that showcase the best and most alluring qualities of the Swartland region, maybe one of the world’s most unique wine zones.

Famed South African winemaker Adi Badenhorst, founded the Badenhorst winery along with his cousin Hein back in 2008 when they purchased their Kalmoesfontein farm in the Paardeberg area of Swartland. Together they restored the ancient and run down cellar, that as they put it, had been neglected since the 1930′s, where they now make some of the most compelling natural wines in the country. These vineyard sites on the Kalmoesfontein farm consist of very old bush-vines, with a host of interesting parcels like those planted to Chenin Blanc, Cinsault and Grenache, all of that average close to 50 years old. The estate is host to an array of varietals, including Chenin Blanc, Clairette Blance, Roussane, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Colombard, Grenache, Cinsault, Shiraz and Tinta Barocca, to name a few, and are un-irrigated and farmed as holistically (employing natural organic methods) as possible. This tasty Raaigras Grenache, according to the winery, was 100% de-stemmed and it was fermented in an old foudre using all native yeasts, with the wine seeing daily pumped overs. After going almost dry the wine pressed and was racked gently to large 500L puncheon(s) where it was aged 14 months on the full lees, then bottled unfined and unfiltered. In recent years I have really enjoyed the Badenhorst wines, like this one, though especially their fabulous Cinsault and Tinta Barocca bottlings, and I highly recommend chasing them down.
($48 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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